One loop, fun; two loops, hard work

That 10-mile trail loop at Westwood Park sure was fun. The first time around the lake, that is.
.
That second time around, well, that was a little tougher. Those rolling hills never stopped.
 
But it was a beautiful morning for a run, and I would do it again. This was my first time to Westwood Park, which is about an hour east of my house.  A running friend recommended the trail to me a few weeks ago. I jumped at the chance. I was getting burned out on trails around Indy and needed some new scenery and a new challenge.

The trail meanders around a lake, with lots of cool breezes and fun hills.

Altogether, I ran 21 miles this morning (the loop was actually 10.5 miles). My time was 3:42:45. I was happy with it, considering the trail never stopped rolling, twisting and turning.

It’s a beautiful trail with lots of variety and plenty of natural beauty. It meandered around the lake, in and out of the woods, across meadows, up and down hills and around sharp bends. (See a map here.) There are also more than 20 footbridges across the lake and gullies.

I counted at least 10 kinds of native flowers along the trail, from daisies to black-eyed susans.

This section of the trail ran through a pine forest, with a soft bed of pine needles.

On many hiking trails, a fallen log would be moved within days. On a bike trail, it's just the first step in a great, new obstacle.

 

Is there a prettier sight than a trail that leads you into the woods?

If you like lots of twists and turns, and short sight lines, you'd love this trail.

Most of the trail was hard-packed dirt, but this short section of rocky ground was fun to run.

According to one review, the loop contains 1,000 feet of ascent. But it happens in small bits and pieces, so you really don’t notice it at the time. Each hill is 20 to 50 feet high, but they never stop.

I ran the loop twice, and can feel the 2,000 feet of climbing in my calves right now. 

pride float and westwood 2009 087

Another view of the lake. I saw two or three fishing boats this morning.

A carpet of wildflowers made a nice visual accent alongside this stretch of trail.

You might think you're all alone, but runners have to keep their eyes open for bicycles and horses.

 

There are more than 20 footbridges along the loop. I thought most were unnecessary (spanning small, dry gullies), but this one across a two-foot-deep cove was nice.

I arrived at the park around 7:15 a.m., and had the whole parking lot to myself, aside from a couple of cars down by the fishing pier.

The centerpiece of the park is a 180-acre lake, which is popular for fishing and small boating.

The trail had everything I like: shade, short sight lines, mile markers and plenty of dirt singletrack trail beneath my feet.

It also had lots of variety, with a pine forest in one section, a wildflower meadow in another, and plenty of “foresty” feel. I’m guessing that about 75 percent of the trail was shaded.

The mountain bikers were no where to be seen this morning. Hey guys, thanks for the great trail.

Hey, what's around that bend? Excuse me while I run ahead and check it out.

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